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Literature Review: Searching

Learning to Write a Systematic Review of Literature

Existing Literature Reviews

There are very few brand new ideas in the world of research, so you may be able to find a Literature Review that already exists to help you get started with your own Literature Review. Searching databases for existing reviews can offer you direction on your research.  Some databases allow you to limit your search by the document type "Literature Review" while others do not offer that feature.  To search for Literature Reviews within databases enter your topic search term(s) and add AND "Literature Review".  Some databases such as Web of Science and other science databases just use the phrase Review to denote Literature Review style articles. Make sure to learn about the database you are searching.

When in doubt ask a librarian for help in finding Literature Reviews in Databases.

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Ulrich's or UlrichsWeb is a database of information about periodicals (also called serials).  It offers information on all types of materials such as academic and scholarly journals, e-journals, peer-reviewed titles (also called refereed), popular magazines, newspapers, and more. In Ulrich's you can find information such as ISSN (International Standard Serial Number), publisher, language, subject and most importantly full-text database coverage and peer review status of each journal title.


When evaluating research some subjects are more effected by timeliness than others. Science and Healthcare generally rely on more recent materials however arts and humanities are less confined by time.  Research published in 1920 on a Shakespeare play may be more relevant than current writings. As technology advances research on computers from the 1980's will be outdated and less relevant than current research on the topic. So make sure to take this into account in your research.